Sunday, 18 July 2010

What is Meconium and how could it affect my birth plan?

Every baby has Meconium. It is the baby’s first stool and it is usually all passed within the first couple of days after birth. Breastfeeding encourages the Meconium to move through the baby’s digestive system. It is dark green in colour, it is sticky and it stains.

While Meconium is usually passed after birth it may be passed during labour/birth or even before labour has started.

If the amniotic sack breaks during labour, or as a sign that labour may be starting soon, it is important to be observant of the fluid. You can expect the fluid to be clear or pale pinkish in colour and it is odourless.

When a mother experiences her amniotic sack breaking as an early sign of labour (which isn’t as common as most people think!), it’s not unusual for her to wonder if she may be leaking urine. Rather than a gush of fluid, as often depicted on television, it’s generally more of a trickle which comes and goes as she changes her position and moves around. If a mother suspects she may be leaking amniotic fluid it is a good idea for her to wear a pad so that she can see the colour of the fluid more easily.

It is when a mother notices a yellowish/greenish discolouration to her amniotic fluid, that Meconium may be present.

If a baby inhales Meconium during labour or birth, it can cause complications. This is more likely to occur if a baby is distressed or induced. When a baby inhales Meconium it is called Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS) and it can be very serious.

There is an excerpt from Midwifery Today here, which gives you a little more information.

When a mother suspects that there may be Meconium in the amniotic fluid it is important that she discusses her observations with her midwife and keeps the pads that have been collecting the fluid so that they can be inspected. If Meconium is found to be present a hospital birth is commonly recommended, just in case the baby inhales some of the Meconium during birth.

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